Books The writing process

Word Tip 7: Replacement Operation

Simple… or is it?

Microsoft Word Tips for AuthorsWelcome to the next in a series of tips on using Microsoft Word, geared towards authors.
Most Word advice is rather complicated and full of things you’ll never need to know.
I shall do my best to keep it simple, because you’re not stupid… just busy.
Please note: 
– Not all versions of Word are the same, but most are near enough.
– There are different ways of doing the same thing. I shall demonstrate just one (or two).

You have a character called Jo. But there’s also a character called John. Someone tells you that’s confusing for them when reading, because the names are too similar.

“No problem,” you say. “I’ll change her name to… Cynthia. It was my great-great-grandmother’s name. I’ve always wanted a chance to use it in one of my stories.”

Then you open your Word document, click Replace, put ‘Jo’ in the Find what box, ‘Cynthia’ in the Replace with box, and click Replace All. Simple.

However, when you scroll through your document, you realise all is not well. John has become Cynthiahn and the banjo he likes to play is now a bancynthia. You think I’m joking? No, I’m Cynthiaking. But I’m also very serious.

Never perform a global replace without considering what else is going to be replaced.

The correct way to replace all instances of the name Jo is this. You see those options at the bottom of the Find and Replace window? If you don’t, click More>> and they’ll appear. Make sure Match case and Find whole words only are ticked (US: checked). That way Word will only replace the instances with a capital J and a small o, and it won’t replace any instances that are part of a longer word.

Here’s another useful tip: Before you begin any big change to your document, make a copy of the whole document. Then you’ll always have a version to return to if the operation doesn’t quite work the way you expected.

Next week: Do you need saving?

Links to Previous Word Tips

  • Tip 1: A Matter of Style
    About heading styles.
  • Tip 2: Make Your Novel a Trampoline
    How to jump swiftly and gracefully between chapters.
  • Tip 3: That’s Not What I Wrote
    How to stop Word making changes you don’t want.
  • Tip 4: How Not to Jump to a New Page
    Press Enter until a new page appears? Please don’t.
  • Tip 5: How Not to Indent a Line
    The space bar is not for indentation.
  • Tip 6: Track and Compare
    About Track Changes, Compare and Combine.

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life. Social anxiety warrior. Cultivating a Fuji, edition 3, a poignant, humorous and uplifting tale, published with Ocelot Press, January 2023.

All spamless comments are welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s